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Saturday, September 07, 2013

Syria, Libya, Yugoslavia & Why We Can't Trust Government - Scottish Daily Mail

      This letter was published by the Scottish Daily Express on Wednesday. I was told about it but haven't actually seen an issue so there may have been a little editing but I am assured this is substantially how it appeared.

       It is hard hitting, I am proud of it, and I didn't expect it to be accepted:

      The spectacular defeat of the government on the issue of making war is not just an almost unique instance in British history of lack of trust in the government.
      It is a popular repudiation of 2 decades of what Robin Cook once called "humanitarian bombing". Popular because this move was driven not just by opinion polls but by the fact that, during their holidays, MPs have been outside the Westminster village and exposed to what real constituents tell them.
      For 2 decades we have been picking fights with smaller countries (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Mali and now Syria). In each case it has been justified by a scare story (that Milosevic was engaged in genocide, that Saddam had wmds, that there was the risk of genocide in democratically minded Benghazi, that if the Mali rebels took Timbuktoo they would next march through European cities and now Syria's alleged use of wmds). All of which turned out to be contrary to evidence.
      Perhaps equally bad is that those we were told were "moderate democrats" when the bombing started, turned out repeatedly to be worse than their alleged oppressors and the countries we broke, were left far more dangerous and often not even nominally more democratic. The most extreme example being Milosevic against whom, despite 4 1/2 years of "trial", no actual evidence could be produced and he died after being poisoned by a chemical that induces heart attacks. In the other hand the gangsters, drug lords, sex slavers, organleggers and WW2 Nazis, NATO recruited and armed as the KLA, proceeded, when appointed as our police, to carry out massacres, racial genocide, ethnic cleansing of 350,000, the sexual enslavement of local schoolchildren and the dissection of 1,800 people, while still alive, to steal their body organs.
       If the Syrian rebels had not obviously been cut from similar, often al Quaeda, cloth but had been seen to be genuinely decent and democratic the doubt that the Syrian government did the gassing would clearly not have existed.
       There is also the history of our government lying. In Yugoslavia they formally promised that they respected that, under international law, Kosovo was (& therefore still is) part of the country. In Iraq there was the wmd lie. In Libya "regime change" was claimed not to be the purpose, we just wanted to stop Libya bombing Benghazi. In Syria we are told, again, that regime change is not the purpose and it would be purely a coincidence if we helped the al Quaeda forces we have been supplying. The British people simply no longer trust the government's word, for obvious reasons.
      The same effect, even more dangerously, affects the rest of the world's valuation of our word. In Libya the Russians accepted a Security Council authorisation that purely authorised the prevention of bombing of Benghazi only to see it "interpreted" to allow bombing of Gaddafi's home town.
        In the 1970s Yugoslavia deliberately decided not to develop its own Bomb, because this would destabilise Europe. Gaddafi gave up his attempts on a specific promise that the NATO powers would live in peace with him.
       Who is going to trust any promise from a western government again?
       Yet, so long as we bring Milosevic to "trial" without evidence while our own politicians, who have certainly engaged in criminal wars and worse, are untouched, how can we ever expect our country, let alone political classes, to be trusted.

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Friday, September 06, 2013

Brian's Big Debate today

    I was one of about 50 people in the BBC radio audience today (including a passelof schoolchildren brought in to keep up the numbers) so I got to speak 3 times and I think anybody in the audience who wanted to did.

     This links to the recording.

     We had the normal Lab/Nat/Coms plus the Herald (the one that publishes Alex Orr saying UKIP shouldn't be allowed to stand but allows no reply) & Oxfam (fakecharity).

    The questions on which I got to answer were:

Syria: I said we had been lied to for so long to bounce us into illegal wars that nobody could believe what we were told now. In particular that we were told that the Serbs were committing genocide in Kosovo but in fact it only happened after we took over when our KLA/police were allowed to kill 210 people at Dragodan outside the UK military HQ. I was pleased to get that on the record but it was ignored. Mike Fisher, another UKIP member also said we had been lied to so many times.

Welfare reform & Glasgow's role as most unemployed city: After a lot of discussion in which everybody complained about not getting enough subsidy I got on and said "All these politicians know that the only way to produce real new jobs is by getting the economy growing. They all know we could do it but only UKIP actually wants to & they don't get on the air." I should have mentioned the current 6%  rest of the world growth rate and used the word censorship. Mike Fisher lamented the way the SNP use such things divisively as if unemployment was only happening in Scotland but not England.

Technology: A rather silly question about young people being much more capable of using mobile phones and other new technology than the questioner and was this a bad thing. When I got the microphone I aid "The default position of the parties here when faced with new technology is how can we ban or restrict it. If we want a growing economy we should embrace technological progress as only the party we aren't supposed to discuss do."

   None of this will set the heather on fire but it is all grist to the mill.
   Incidentally the guy sitting beside me was very much an old socialist but lamented the fact that the socialist parties were against progress. Also, pragmatically, that there was a place for the free market to create the wealth. We very much agreed on nuclear. I suspect that with enough time I could have converted him to our side since the only real thing we disagreed on was the need to retain & glory in the word "socialism". He had been an SSP activist but was contemptuous of the way their meetings tended to be lectures about oppressing of trade unionists in 1920s Venezeula and matters similarly unconnected to progress.

   Mike Fisher has pointed out I neglected to mention his all-important point that the four pillars of the UK are its four countries that form the 'family' that make up the United Kingdom. That was but one point as a beginning of my anti-separatist, anti-SNP campaign but it received a reasonable amount of applause from the audience.

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

Recent Reading

Sea levels have fallen 7 mm and it is all the fault of global warming and the Australians.
Brian Monteith on why he is attracted to the idea of an independent libertarian Scotland but with the SNP in charge it isn't on offer.
Remember when Labour’s John Reid said to Andrew Neil:

“The Treasury insisted on having a free flow of labour because they thought that brought down the cost of labour….there is nothing right wing about having a controlled immigration policy”

So Labour deliberately undermined local wages….the ‘undermining‘ that Bryant is complaining about now.   So where are the BBC questions about that now?
Background on an incident at the end of the Iraq war - SAS shooting while impersonating opposing militia to stir ethnic tensions
 Steve Sailer reads the Daily Mail and finds posh people in Britain not less racist or politically incorrect than the common herd - simply better at covering it up.
A study found that they were just as likely to be prejudiced as their less educated peers but did not act on their feelings.
Or, more accurately, did not naively express their beliefs, while still acting upon them. are just as likely to be racist or politically incorrect as the common herd, they just lie better
poll carried out exclusively for Lib Dem Voice shows that opposition from the Daily Mail, The Sun and Daily Telegraph to the Liberal Democrats actually makes people more likely to vote for the party.

Asked the impact on their voting intention of those papers opposing Nick Clegg becoming Prime Minister, 15% said it made them more likely to vote Liberal Democrat and only 4% said it made them less likely, making for a net +11% saying they are more likely to vote Liberal Democrat.

   Which in turn leads me to believe that UKIP making an issue of the fact that the BBC, far more influential than all the newspapers put together, is clearly propagandising and censoring against us is likely to gain votes not lose them (perhaps by more than the 11% the LDs saw for a much smaller bit if bias).
David Sinclair believes we can expect to see people live to 120 and beyond within our lifetime. Harvard University's Professor David Sinclair is working on a 'cure for ageing' and believes modern medicine can significantly extend the human lifespan. "I think there will be a world where people can look forward to living at least beyond 100, and it will be not uncommon where people can live to 120.

There are drugs already in clinical trials and, so far, they seem to be safe and showing early signs of success.
               From Next Big Future
I like maps
Hawaii sets aside $100,000 to offer its 17,000 homeless people one-way airfare back to their home states
 "The way to get your scientific research grant granted say it will support climate change science"

$487K Study of Viking Textiles During Little Ice Age To ‘Mitigate Climate Change’

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Automated Cars go Global

    This looks like a milk float and the max 20 kmh (12.5mph)speed limit doesn't change that impression but
ntu_driverless it is Singapore's first toe in the water of driverless cars.

"The Energy Research Institute at NTU will test and optimize Induct’s :”NAVIA” electric shuttle to enable it to intermingle safely with traffic in Singapore.

NAVIA can carry eight passengers and has a maximum speed of 20.1 km/h."

    That does look like the start of a genuine mass transit system, particularly since (A) Singapore has a relatively small area and (B) they already rigidly control the number of cars by limiting (& selling) licences so they can ensure congestion isn't a problem.

    I commented:

"The bottleneck in automated driving will be getting governments to make it road legal. Like the British government in the 1890s which passed a law that cars could only be driven with a man with a red flag walking in front.

Unsurprising that Singapore would be in the forefront here."

    So having this country, formerly of the 3rd world but consistently an "early adopter" of technology,  making it road legal is a significant step in the worldwide adoption of  this new technology.

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Monday, September 02, 2013

Cost of the EU - Updated

         Some time ago I reviewed Tim Congdon's estimate that the EU costs us £150 bn annually. I concluded that he had consistently decided to estimate cautiously and that this was the lowest figure that was credible. I assume this is why no EUrophile media has seriously attempted to dispute the figure.

          He is right to use such caution, in that the case for leaving is overwhelmingly made by such a figure and a higher but less certain one would produce less certainty.

          However it left me free to make my own estimate of a possible higher figure simply to show the options and I came up with £236 bn.

           Then I was given this link, published by Richard North in 2004 as follow up to a rather silly discussion with him I mentioned a couple of days ago:

"According to the recently published 354-page annual report on Competitiveness, produced by the EU commission and available on the Europa website, "suffocating red tape" is blamed for much of Europe's sluggish performance. The commission also states that the EU could raise overall GDP by 12 percent through adopting an American-style "regulatory burden".

    This is how he made up the 10% estimate of EU parasitism and how I recalculated it with underlined, the new (well actually old) 12% figure in place:


1 - Direct fiscal cost / 1% / Relatively easy to quantify from official publications and balance- of-payments data; concept is of gross payments to EU institutions over which UK government has no further control.

2 - Costs of regulation / 5% / Mandelson 2004 to CBI conference 4% of GDP, but many other sources confirm approximate estimate of this size; many subsequent directives etc. have increased costs.

3 - Costs of resource / 3¼% / CAP long recognised to cause large resource misallocation. misallocation This may now be only ½% of GDP, but other EU protectionism estimated by Minford et al 2005 to cost further 3% of GDP.

4 - Cost of lost jobs / ¼% / Open UK labour market from 2004 allowed 700,000 Eastern Europeans into the UK, taking away jobs of over 100,000 UK-born people; labour market is still open.

5 - Costs of waste / ¼% / CFP involves fish discard and effective ‘gift’ to other nations of fraud and corruption fishing rights in UK territorial waters, but costs under 0.1% of GDP; waste of over-prescriptive water standards; abuse of UK student loan system.

6 - Contingent liabilities / ¼% / Costs of ‘benefits tourism’, plus some allowance for possible recapitalization of EIB and other EU institutions.

Total   10%
 Conclusion: the UK is about 10% of GDP worse-off because of its membership of the EU.

Which he estimates as having been about £150 billion. 
 The point I would like to make about this is that it is not only a reasoned assessment but an entirely reasonable one. He has not chosen the highest cost in each instance as some government reports (eg the Stern Report) do (Stern was rubbish for other reasons too - namely that they assumed all the initial catastrophe assumptions they were given without looking at evidence)..

  I'll give you an example of what he could have done.  

2 - Verheugen actually said 5.5%, Congdon has chosen to take only 5% but could equally have assumed the commissioner, being a eurocrat was underestimating and then add 1/2% for increased regulation since then coming up with 7%.

 3 - He ignores, for very good reason, an OECD report which said the common agricultural policy cost 4% on its own.

Had he assumed it even half correct that would have added another 1 1/2% to the misallocation cost, with which it would have been difficult for europhiles to argue.

  Those bring it up to 13% of GDP. Taking a more recent GDP estimate of £1,737 bn that would be £226 billion.

    But then if we bring in the 12% figure instead of the 5.5%  this  brings the 13% up to 19.5% of gdp.

    So instead of £226 billion we get (226 X 19.5/13) the EU costing £339 billion annually.

   That comes to £11,300 yearly per family across Britain.

 Then look at the loss of, compounded, economic growth this parasitism causes. No wonder we are doing so badly.

Being a glass half full sort of guy I prefer to look at this, not in terms of how much has been stolen from us, but in terms of how wealthy we will be once we get a government not committed to such parasitism.
    Professor Congdon is issuing an updated costing assuming " The biggest single cost to the UK and indeed to all member states is the burden of the ‘directives’ and ‘regulations’ contained in the so-called acquis communautaire. That cost is growing over time, with – I suggest – an increasing handicap each year of ½% to 1% of national output. If this were true, we would expect EU member states to have slower output growth – by about ½% to 1% a year – than the advanced, high-income countries as a whole. And that is exactly what we do see. The economic importance of the EU in the world is falling sharply."
     It certainly seems reasonable to assume that, since EU regulation is increasing, the amount it costs should. However I must admit that the concept of the 12% having increased by another 6% since the paper in 2004, which would be 25.5% and £443 billion. That, while arithmetically sound is just too scary to contemplate.
    However what I am willing to say is that the amount we lose from being in the EU is an absolute minimum of  Professor Congdon's estimate and the laws of statistics being what they are, are almost certain to be between these 2 estimates (ignoring the last) and that there is no particular reason to think they will be at the lower end.
    Which is as good an argument as can be for quitting and quitting very quickly.

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Rich Countries Can More Easily Get Richer

  I have previously argued against a meme common to politicians in slow growing advanced countries - that it is easier for undeveloped countries to grow because they are simply "playing catch up" using technology already invented.

    History does not show that. Indeed it shows that while being developed/undeveloped is not the most important factor in growth (economic freedom & sometimes energy resources are) the general trend is that the less developed countries grow slower.

   If this were not so the disparity between the wealthiest and poorest would not now be around 150:1. Around 1800 when the Industrial Revolution started even the richest countries were always close to literal starvation in bad harvest years so the poorest, however defined, could not have been much poorer.

   What factors allow advanced countries to grow faster?
*Well with Moore's Law and fast growth in other advanced countries our basic industries are clearly capable of very fast growth.
*On the other hand, while agricultural productivity is increasing everywhere it is not going to double easily so countries where agriculture are the basic industry are at an enormous disadvantage.
*Poor countries simply cannot take as large a fraction of their income out of keeping themselves alive and putting it into investment as rich ones can.
*Rich countries have good communications infrastructure, both transport and telecom, and good communication is an absolute necessity to any industry. Good communications are probably very important in promoting the rule of law without which no economy can grow.
*Rich countries can afford good education and an educated workforce is another necessity.

It is likely that some of this is being levelled by shipping containers, easy international transfer of investment money, and online education but that still leaves a major disparity.

Where rich countries are growing slower I think it is entirely when they decide to promote ecofascist Luddism - a self-indulgence which the literally and metaphorically hungry countries do not have time for.

   This lecture was brought on by this article on how robotics is already levelling the apparent advantage in cheap workers that China and the like have. This is how technological progress trumps previous advantages.
Much has been said over the last few years about the loss of American jobs to other countries. The fact is that China and India, as well as other cheap labor countries, have taken a good number of jobs.

Many of these jobs will likely never return. I wrote a 2006 article for the E-Commerce Times titled "Why Money Chases Cheap Labor -- The Outsourcing Phenomenon." The article attempted to explain why industry will probably always follow the path of least resistance when trying to lower the costs of manufacturing. The reason for this is that industry has to be competitive in order to remain viable.

 Is there a way, however, by which industry can stay competitive -- especially with its labor costs -- without outsourcing jobs? There is, and the answer is robotics. Smart Robots Robots have come a long way. There was a time when robots were mainly used in the auto industry..... Now, because of smart robots, factory personnel can focus on training the robots and supervising what they are doing. 

If you are an American manufacturer, why would you outsource the assembly of your product in order to garner the low labor costs of a foreign country, when you can purchase robots that can do the same job as good or better than foreign workers, and at a similar or lower price? It just wouldn't make sense.
I came to that article via Futurepundit which ran with the concept:

Wondering what are the ideal attributes of countries where to run huge robot factories?
  • very small human populations (so lower taxes needed to support them).
  • lots of natural resources.
  • low border exposure to teeming masses of poorer people.
  • exceptionally highly (primarily imported) skilled human workers.
  • governments which the capitalists can totally dominate.
I'm thinking big sovereign islands....

Think of Ireland. It seems a great place to put lots of totally automated factories. The Irish government has low corporate taxes. The population is small enough that a huge concentration of factories in Ireland would not need to be heavily taxed in order for the government to subsidize high living standards for most of the populace.

To which I commented & he replied

Manufacturing countries will have to have plentiful reliable electricity supplies which probably means nuclear plants (possibly shale). With robotics good enough to build a robot that can walk & chew gum, the far simpler problems of running robotic nuclear plants will be solved. However the real problem with nuclear is the Luddite scare. That may well exclude Ireland from becoming an industrial heartland.

I suggest that just as good rule of law may be more important than low taxes (taxes can only take a part of your money) a technologically progressive, low regulation, anti-Luddite culture may be even more important (I think such Luddism is already cutting western economies by 100% of their potential while taxes can only take 50%).

That could be Singapore, seasteding and Elysium (the latter only for high value/low weight items).
Neil Craig,
Iceland makes sense as a major manufacturing center for robotic factories. Cheap, reliable geothermal electricity. Small population. Sea port. Near export markets. I should have thought of this sooner.
and he has since done that article on Iceland
    Doing my British patriot bit I can suggest that Britain, while perhaps a bit on the large side, could fit very well into that format if we ever got a government not addicted to anti-tech Luddism. That is the defining question.

   I could also see Scotland doing it or indeed something like the Islay Community of Tomorrow I suggested some time ago. That would not necessarily be independent of the UK but would have a self selecting technologically progressive population, as would a seasted.

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